City council to roll out online payment system for school meals

Lunchtime at school
Lunchtime at school
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MANY parents face a frantic search for loose change in the mornings to allow their children to pay for school dinners.

But the last-minute scramble for coins could soon be a thing of the past, with the city council set to roll out an online payment system for meals in some schools.

The scheme has been piloted at Sciennes Primary over the last year, where 98 per cent of parents have taken advantage of paying online for schools meals, trips and cartons of milk.

It will be rolled out at Currie and Craigroyston primaries, as well as Balerno High School, before the end of the year – with Craigroyston Community High and Firrhill High School set to offer the online service to parents early next year.

Council chiefs will evaluate its success in the schools before making a decision on whether to extend the online scheme across the Capital.

Sixth-year pupil at Firrhill High School, Rebecca Frith, will be among the pupils to benefit when the system is introduced at her school in the new year.

The 17-year-old, who lives in Oxgangs, said: “It sounds like a really good idea. I do prefect duties for queues at my school and this would make it a lot quicker. People are queuing for a long time – some people put money on cards and sometimes the machines break. This would be a lot easier.”

Rebecca’s mum Jane, who is headteacher at the Royal High School, said she was “delighted” that the online system was set to be rolled out to Firrhill High.

She added: “I would very much welcome it at the Royal High, too. It’s definitely the way to go.”

School dinners are currently paid for by cash or cheque and these traditional payment methods will still remain available to parents.

With the new system, parents log in online and pay for the meals by card, and can also choose what their child has for lunch from the daily menus.

The city’s education leader, councillor Paul Godzik, said: “We’ve been trialling this system in Sciennes Primary School in response to parents’ desire to be able to make payments online and it has proved very successful. We’re now rolling it out to some other schools. We believe the system offers real benefits to parents and hope they will have a similarly high uptake. I would like to assure parents who prefer the traditional payment methods that this will remain available to them.”